It seems that nearly all the new music I’ve been listening to lately has had a distinctly retro feel.  None more so than Coming Home by Leon Bridges. Twenty six year old Bridges from Fort Worth, Texas had been working as a dishwasher but due to chance meeting with Austin Jenkins from psych-rock band White Denim – they struck up a conversation about clothes- he soon found himself in the band’s studio with Jenkins and his bandmate Joshua Block.

The studio was kitted out with vintage analogue equipment, and this retro recording approach has no doubt added to the album’s authentic feel, but it is Bridges’ voice that is the undoubted star here.  Any review of this album – in fact any mention of Bridges at all – is going to reference soul legend Sam Cooke.  Bridges’ vocals are almost spookily similar to Cooke’s smoky-yet-smooth tones.

Production credits are attributed to Niles City Sound – the name of the studio – but whoever it was that placed the mics and twiddled the knobs has captured that classic sixties sound fairly faithfully; occasionally, as on opening track Coming  Home there is maybe just a little too much emphasis on the drums, knocking things just slightly out of balance.  On the whole however, this is a highly successful attempt at capturing a familiar, comforting and engaging sound that pays tribute to its influences without being derivative.

Bridges’ songs also hark back to simpler times.  There is subtle sense of morality underpinning these tender love songs.  On Lisa Sawer, Bridges pays tribute to his mother and grandparents who didn’t have much but were “rich in love”.  That love shines out of every word that Bridges sings.  Final track River sees Bridges pleading for redemption to the simple accompaniment of acoustic guitar, tambourine and  gospel backing singers.

With a total running time under 35 minutes Coming Home is over before you know it, it’s 10 songs range from 2:20 to 4:11 and never outstay their welcome.  Coming Home leaves you wanting more and I don’t think we will have to wait too long; Leon Bridges is set to be a big star.

John Scott

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